A friendship can be difficult to end due to the history and connection you share with this person. However, if you no longer wish to maintain the relationship, there are ways for you both to part amicably. Remaining polite throughout the process is important, and can be achieved by choosing not to argue, having open communication, and expressing your expectations.
Reasons for Ending a Friendship
It is not easy to end any kind of relationship that has been playing a valuable part in your life. Friendships can provide support, affection, excitement, companionship, and many more benefits. Unfortunately, like all relationships, as a friendship progresses over extended periods of time, friends will experience challenges. Some of these problems are able to be worked through–others, not so much.
When there is one significant problem or a compilation of issues, an individual will begin to consider ending a friendship. This is a process that should not be made hastily or on a whim. Instead, one should take the time to identify their reasons for wanting to end the friendship. By doing so, they can better assess if there is anything the friend could do that could repair the rift between them or when it is clearly time to end the friendship.
Here are a few reasons why someone may choose to end a friendship:
- Life changes: Our lives change and we cannot dedicate the same amount of time and effort into a friendship all of the time. This could be because of starting a family, a new career, or entering a different phase of life.
- Distance: You and your friend have begun to grow distant from each other, whether physically or emotionally. Either way, this may be one reason to end the friendship.
- Negativity: Negativity occurs when your friend is no longer providing you with support and instead is always putting you down or speaking poorly to you.
- Different values: Maybe your ideological values have changed and now conflict with one another’s.
- Lying: Dishonesty in a friendship is never fair. When your friend is lying to you, this can easily be cause for concern.
- Betrayal: A friend sharing information or doing something to betray your trust in them may result in you wanting to leave the friendship.
How to Recognize a Toxic Friendship
If you notice that your friendship is becoming one-sided, this can be an indicator that the relationship is in fact toxic. Initially, you may not be aware of your friend’s unhealthy behavior, as some actions can be subtle, easy to overlook, or leave you in denial.
Being in a toxic friendship can leave you emotionally and mentally drained, especially if you are putting in most of the effort with little to no reciprocation. Feeling unable to rely on your friend can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and frustration. In contrast, friends in a healthy relationship are supportive of one another and their mutual connection grows.
Signs your friendship may be toxic include:
- Your needs are being neglected in friendship.
- They don’t show up to events or support you in your endeavors.
- They are always speaking negatively to you.
- You are doing the majority or all of the communication.
- You feel drained after being with them.
- They lie and try to manipulate you.
10 Tips for Ending a Friendship Politely
Coming to the decision to end a friendship is never easy. To avoid any conflict or drama, it is best to try and do so politely. Despite what may have occurred, you may still care about the individual and do not want to intentionally hurt them in the process. While it is hard to determine the impact this may have on the other party involved, you can minimize some of the negative fallout that may occur by being respectful, tactful, and honest.
1. Take a Break
In the heat of an argument or conflict, people can make rash and harsh decisions. By taking a break from the friendship for a period you can avoid saying or doing something you may not intend to. Removing yourself from the situation allows you to assess the issues at hand, which may end up being less significant than you had originally thought. Or, you may realize that they are severe and warrant a complete dismissal of the friendship. Whichever it may be, the time apart will help you to figure it out.
A break will also provide you with the opportunity to experience life without the friendship. At this point, you can make a level-headed decision as to whether or not to continue the relationship. One thing you may want to consider is taking a social media break throughout the process, too. In the crazy online world of posts, stories, live streams, and memes, messages can be misinterpreted and could negatively affect your decision-making process.
2. Talk It Out
Having direct and honest communication can minimize any miscommunication regarding your reasons or feelings about ending the friendship. This option is much better than ghosting your friend, which can leave them feeling confused, hurt, and blindsided. It offers you the opportunity to clearly express why you have made your decision, as well as a space for your friend to share their thoughts and feelings, too.
Before talking it out, you should outline your reasons for wanting to end the friendship so you can articulate them appropriately. Make sure that you set up a time to have this conversation when you both are available without any limitations or constraints. This discussion should be private, as having audiences and third parties present can result in less favorable outcomes.
3. Let It Fade
Letting a friendship fade out is another approach if you are worried that talking it out could be difficult for you. You can gradually decrease your communication and time spent with your friend until eventually, you stop reaching out entirely. If you have noticed that your friend is becoming more and more distant from you, just allow them to continue to do so.
4. End It Immediately
In certain instances, such as experiencing any form of abuse from a friend, violation of boundaries, or a criminal act, you should terminate the friendship immediately. If your safety is in jeopardy, you should make the decision at that moment to cut any contact with them. You do not have to provide an explanation for this choice.
5. Write Them a Letter
Writing a letter allows you the ability to fully ponder and review your reasons for ending the friendship, and also helps you find the right words to say. This method also negates any opportunity for an argument or fight to develop between you and your friend. However, you should be prepared to receive a response, whether it is a phone call, text, e-mail, or a responding letter.
Top Rated Online Therapy Services for 2023
BetterHelp – Best Overall
BetterHelp “quickly connects you with a licensed counselor or therapist and earned 4 out of 5 stars” Visit BetterHelp
Online-Therapy.com – Honorable Mention
“CBT program is included with all of the subscriptions and one of its strongest features” Visit Online-Therapy.com
Read our full article Best Online Therapy Services For 2023
Choosing Therapy partners with leading mental health companies and is compensated for marketing by BetterHelp and Online-Therapy
6. Don’t Be Aggressive
Being aggressive is the worst thing you could do when trying to end a friendship, as it can trigger your friend to become defensive. What was intended to be a calm, rational conversation could shift into a hostile argument or physical altercation. Your message will get lost in the chaos and this will absolutely eliminate any chance of ending things amicably. Your once beloved friend may also turn into an enemy who may cause you more problems in the future.
7. Be Open & Honest
If you are going to end your friendship, you should not try to “sugarcoat” it. You need to be honest with your friend about the reasons you want to part ways with them. If you are not, it can result in misunderstandings about why the breakup is happening. Furthermore, remaining open with your friend provides them with the necessary information they need to hear so they can work on their own issues.
8. Don’t Play the Blame Game
When ending a friendship, you should absolutely avoid blaming them for anything that was done. At this point, they may not want to listen to anything else you are trying to explain to them. They may also begin to blame you for either the same or different issues. In the end, no one is heard or understood and everything becomes a complicated mess.
9. Don’t Argue
Avoid arguing at all costs–this is already a difficult decision to make and a conversation to have. Ending a friendship will stir up a variety of emotions for both of you, so do your best to not let your feelings take over. Don’t let your message get lost because of vindictive behavior.
10. State Your Expectations
One mistake people tend to make when ending a friendship is just leaving it at, “the friendship is over,” without explaining anything. Similar to taking the time to articulate your reasons with your friend, you need to state what you would like to happen moving forward. That means detailing what you expect the communication or interaction to be like if you encounter each other online or in person. If you have shared mutual friends, family, or employment roles, these should be discussed as well. Do not leave any gray areas as this can lead to future misunderstandings or conflict.
What Not to Do When Ending a Friendship
By not ending a friendship in healthy ways, you cannot obtain the resolution you were looking for. Additionally, there is a possibility that the issues between the both of you can become worse. It can become hostile, which may result in disputes, physical altercations, or legal actions needing to be taken.
Things to avoid when ending a friendship include:
- Ghost them: If they are not made aware of their behaviors that ended the friendship, your friend may never realize it is something that needs to be changed.
- Involve other people: If you involve other people in the process, it can become very complicated and drama-filled.
- Post about it on social media: This will undoubtedly bring unnecessary attention and input from other people, which is not good.
- Be rude: Being rude will result in your friend becoming defensive, and they will not listen to what you are trying to communicate.
- Feel guilty: If you have come to this decision, it is for a reason. Do not feel bad for making the choice to end the friendship.
What to Expect When Ending a Friendship
Remember, it is important to focus on your reasons for ending the friendship and not allow yourself to second-guess your decision once you two separate. This could lead you to return to the bad situation you just got out of.
From Your Friend
The friend whom you are breaking up with will experience a variety of emotions, and may even begin to yell, become aggressive, or even cry. It is hard to determine how someone will react in the moment, so you should be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions.
In the case of hostility, you should create some space between you and this friend. Next, you should try to de-escalate the situation and calm your friend down. If you are unsuccessful with this, end the conversation and leave. Your safety should be a top priority, and if you feel it is in jeopardy, there is no need to push forward.
A friend may react to the end of a friendship by:
- Becoming angry
- Becoming hostile
- Being in denial
- Ignoring you
There are many variables that could determine your own reactions such as the length of your friendship, the quality of the friendship, your reasons for ending it, and how it ended. Keep in mind that you should not try to distract yourself from how you are feeling. Monitor yourself to make sure you are not exhibiting unhealthy behaviors that could be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Using healthy coping mechanisms can help alleviate the negative emotions or stress you are experiencing.
How Therapy Can Help
Therapy can be a helpful tool when identifying your reasons for ending the friendship, working through the issues with your friend, mediating the ending of a friendship, or providing support afterward. If you believe you are unable to handle this challenging situation on your own, you should consider seeking out the help of a professional therapist who specializes in couples therapy.
Even though this is not a romantic relationship, couples counselors will have adequate insight to help you navigate this kind of rift between you and your friend. Trying individual therapy for yourself can also aid you throughout this process.
In My Experience
In my experience, it is a difficult decision to make when you want to end a friendship. No one wants to give up on a loved one who has been there for them through important moments in their life. I would recommend that this is a process you should not go through alone, and the help of a professional would be beneficial. A word of advice I would give a client experiencing this would be, “Take as much time as you need to make sure that this is something you want to follow through with.”